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Lexus UX test drive

Does its hybrid powertrain give the new Lexus UX an edge against its compact SUV rivals?

The rise of the compact SUV (or crossover, if you prefer) shows no signs of slowing down, and now Lexus wants to join the party with its latest model – the new Lexus UX.

Sliding underneath the NX and RX models in the company’s range, the UX sits on a new compact platform and, like every other Lexus model, it’s a hybrid. In fact, you won’t be able to buy a UX in this country that’s not a hybrid, although some other countries will get regular petrol versions.

That powertrain means that it does offer something different to its main rivals (there are few other petrol-electric hybrid compact SUVs currently on the market), and it does this while maintaining Lexus’s reputation for a high standard of quality.

What’s new about the Lexus UX?

The UX is the first Lexus model to use the company’s new “Global Architecture – Compact” platform, giving it better balance while maintaining compact dimensions. There’s a distinctive exterior design too, while Lexus’s latest cabin technology has been used inside. The UX is being pitched at young families who want a car with the style of an SUV but the city-friendly proportions of a hatchback as well.

The UX is also being offered with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, giving buyers a little more choice when it comes to how the car delivers its power. There is, however, just one engine available.

How does it look?

The UX’s dinky proportions mean it has quite a small footprint on the road. However, the angular styling does make a bold statement and, like other Lexus models, it will divide opinion as sharply as the creases on its bodywork.

The rear-three-quarter angle appears too fussy, in our opinion, while there looks to be a huge gap between the rear wheels and the arches – and this isn’t helped by the squared-off design of the arches themselves. That said, it does stand out against other small SUVs – and in a heavily congested market, standing out is no bad thing.

What’s the spec like?

Our car came in F Sport specification, which sits in the middle of three trim levels. It has a decent standard of kit, including a full complement of safety assistance systems, as well as features such as dual-zone climate control and parking sensors at both front and rear.

The standard infotainment system is a seven-inch unit, although our test car came with the upgraded ten-inch version. It looks fabulous at and lifts the overall feel of the cabin, but isn’t as easy to get along with as systems in rival cars. The satellite navigation isn’t sharp enough and the overall user-friendliness isn’t quite up to scratch.

F Sport cars get a different exterior styling package to other versions, so opt for this one if you’re looking for the most premium-looking version available.

Continued on next page: Interior, driving experience and our verdict

Jack Evans
Jack Evans
Articles by Jack Evans are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.
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